Masters Takes On a Canadian Tinge

By George WhiteMarch 11, 2004, 5:00 pm
Darkness had already started to spread across the 10th green when Mike Weir won the 2003 Masters. He was in a playoff with Len Mattiace, and Mattiace was having a terrible time getting the ball on the green.
 
By the time Mattiace had cuffed it around for double bogey, Weir was the winner. The boy from a small Canadian town in Ontario had grown up to become a Masters champion, and Canada would never again be quite the same.
 
Sure enough, Jean Chretien, then the Prime Minister of Canada, was one of the first to call and offer his congratulations.
 
He was with the President of the Dominican Republic, recounted Weir, and he said they were watching and he was jumping up and down, and his wife was jumping up and down, and they were very excited. He said he was very proud of me.
 
Now its a year later, and Weir returns to Augusta as the defending champion. And, Weir says, this year is much different.
 
I think I'm more recognizable than maybe what I was before, said Weir, who was born in Sarnia, Ontario. I've said before, I think even the casual golf fan tunes into the Masters. Whether it's the beauty of the place and music and everything else that they enjoy, people enjoy watching The Masters. So me winning last year, I think I'm recognized maybe more by the casual fan than the die-hard fan who did know me before. That's the big difference.
 
Weir lives now in Draper, Utah. Yes, hes Drapers most famous citizen. Hes one of golfs most famous, too. And being famous gives way to high expectations, he has learned.
 
Yeah, I think any time you win a major, expectations rise probably, said Weir. It probably gave hope to a lot of medium-range hitters that it wasn't going to be all long-ballers out there last year. It proves that you can find other ways to get it done in this game.
 
I've always had high expectations of myself, but I think there is probably a little bit more expectations.
 
Weir already has won on the PGA Tour this year, repeating as the champion of the Nissan Open. Its the seventh time he has won on the tour, and Weir has the uncanny knack of getting them in the big tournaments. Hes won a World Golf Championship event, the American Express, at Valderrama. Hes won the Tour Championship. And in addition to the Masters and Nissan, he originally won as a native son, taking the Air Canada Championship.
 
Along the way, the slightly built left-hander has endeared himself to fans of all nationalities. Both personally and professionally, hes the guy that most of the fans genuinely appreciate.
 
I think maybe the average amateur can relate to my game a little more, because I play with a lot of amateurs that hit further than I do, he confesses. Not many guys can hit it as far as Tiger and Vijay and Phil and Davis, and that's a different game that they play than even I play and amateurs play. So maybe they can relate to my game a little more.
 
Repeatedly last year, Weir dug deep inside during the final round at Augusta to find an inner will, something to combat the feelings of nerves, some way to get over the myriad hurdles that were laid out before him. Hes 33 now, and he doesnt think he would have succeeded five years ago.
 
Experience in this game is a huge factor, Weir said, and I've been through a lot of situations in the game my seven years on the tour - and other years that I was on some smaller tours - and you use all those experiences to pull yourself through tough situations.
 
And now hes learned what he has to have to play the majors.
 
The game has so many ebbs and flows, he said, and you just try to peak for the majors. You try to get your game so it does peak at that right time, because you know you can't stay there the whole time. It's too demanding physically and mentally to stay there for that long of a time.
 
I want to do a lot of similar things that I did last year. I'll probably stay at the same place. My preparation will hopefully be a little better. The weather conditions played a big factor in that last year. We weren't able to get on the golf course very much before the tournament.
 
Weir is an excellent putter, and his work with the short stick was one of the major factors in his winning last year. But just as important was his ability to concoct a good game plan and stick to it. That is what he will have to do if he is to be successful this time.
 
I always felt like I have a good strategy for the golf course, and that's important, said Weir. Iron play, distance control with your irons, and putting it on the smart side of the hole is at least for me the most important thing, and that's what I base my plan around playing the golf course. Whether I'm able to do that, hopefully I'm striking my irons well enough to be able to control them. But that's how I go about that place, trying to attack it.
 
Weir goes back to Augusta this year as the champion. He has a green jacket now, he will take advantage of the champions locker room. As defending champion, he will attend the champions dinner, even hosting this one since he is only one year removed from the ceremonies in Butler Cabin.
 
What will be on the menu? Weir is looking forward to having something typically Canadian ' maybe something as Canadian as coffee and doughnuts.

Yeah, he said with a laugh. Thats Canadian, for sure!
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
  • Masters Photo Gallery
  • Tee Times
  • Arnold Palmers 50th Masters
  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''